INDIANAPOLIS (Dec. 1, 2011) – Englishman Oliver Webb is the next piece of the Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM) puzzle that is being assembled in Indianapolis to become a championship-contending team when the Firestone Indy Lights Series begins its 2012 season on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., next March.
The 20-year-old Webb, from Knutsford, England, moves to the Indy Lights Series in 2012 after competing in the World Series by Renault in 2011 for Pons Racing. He joins Frenchman Tristan Vautier on SSM’s Indy Lights team, which is the most successful organization in series history. SSM has won five Indy Lights championships and has 46 race wins.
“The decision to move to the U.S. for Indy Lights was a tough one to make. However, the efforts of Sam Schmitt and the team made it much easier,” Webb said. “We have been in contact with Sam for a couple of years, now, and after securing a podium in my Indy Lights debut, I was keen to have a full test program with Sam and the guys. I completed a two-day test and very quickly decided it was the right move for my career toward the top end of motorsport. I look forward to challenging for the 2012 title with SSM.”
Though Webb has spent most of his career racing single-seaters in Europe, he made four Indy Lights starts in 2011, highlighted by a third-place finish in his debut in the first Edmonton race. He finished fifth in the second Edmonton race the next day. Webb also competed in the Indy Lights events at Baltimore and Las Vegas.
“I have been waiting for this day for quite some time,” Schmidt said. “I invited Oli and his father to the Toronto race in 2009 and have been trying to get him into the series ever since. He is extremely dedicated, focused and has raced in some very competitive European series. He proved he can drive an Indy Lights car when he finished third in his first outing this past season. With his four Indy Lights starts in 2011, we look for him to be at the front of the grid in St. Pete and a championship contender all season.”
Webb began his racing career in karting at the age of 9. After several wins and a championship at age 11, he began to focus on his racing career. He steadily moved through Formula BMW UK (2007), Formula Renault UK (2008, 2009) and British Forumla 3 (2010) before reaching the World Series by Renault in 2011. Along the way, he has amassed several race wins and countless podiums. Webb also competed in the Spanish Formula Renault winter championship in 2008.
SSM won the 2011 Indy Lights championship with driver Josef Newgarden from Hendersonville, Tenn. Fellow SSM driver Esteban Guerrieri finished second in the championship standings. SSM intends to run four cars in 2012, as it did in 2011.
The 2012 Firestone Indy Lights season kicks off Sunday, March 25, with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
About Sam Schmidt Motorsports:
Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM) was established in 2001 and is owned by former driver Sam Schmidt, who was paralyzed (quad) in 2000 after an accident during testing at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla. As a car owner, Schmidt fields cars in the IZOD IndyCar Series, including the Indianapolis 500, and the Firestone Indy Lights Championship. SSM is the most successful team in Firestone Indy Lights with 46 race wins and five championships. In addition, SSM has qualified 12 cars in the Indianapolis 500 since 2001 and, in 2011, won the coveted Indy 500 pole with driver Alex Tagliani in 2011.